Berrios becomes 'Teflon Don'
The Chicago Tribune seems to view Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios as the new “Teflon Don.”
In a recent editorial, the newspaper marvels at how Berrios, a Chicago Democrat, has managed to withstand allegations of nepotism and a lack of ethics in his office. More recently, he has faced withering criticisms over his system of conducting property tax assessments, which an ongoing lawsuit claims are based on a system of institutional racism.
While Berrios has denied all the claims, the reality is the mere presence of them would be enough to end the careers of most politicians. To the contrary, the newspaper points out Berrios has managed to maintain relationships with the likes of such Democrats as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Still, none of that erases a recent Tribune/ProPublica investigation touted as exposing “clout, patronage and incompetence” in his office, not to mention a system that has been blasted as arbitrarily assigns property values that determine property tax bills.
But somehow Berrios, who also is the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, manages to stay one step ahead of all the confusion, and the Tribune editorial hints that his reputation as a top-flight fundraiser and his ability to steer constant business to clout-rich lawyers, such as the ones associated with Madigan, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), as assessor might have something to do with it.
Even as the paper has taken to describing the entire episode as “The Silence of the Dems,” Berrios has continued to deny all the claims lodged against him.
As for the lawsuit, he dismisses it as politically motivated, arguing his assessment system is not only “fundamentally fair,” but allows every property owner the right to appeal any verdict.